Goodbye. Tata. Farewell. Auf Wiedersehn. Goodnight.
Adieu. Adieu. To you. And you. And you.
Vamoose Mera Anmolya “Ratan”. Don’t forget to carry your ugly industrialist designs with you. And please take along Infosys and others with you too. We don’t need your kind here. Didn’t you hear what we just said? Adieu. To you and you and you.
Because we are Bengalis. We hate industrial development. As a matter of fact, we hate industry. Please leave us to our farming and poverty———after all if we don’t have that how will Mrinal Sen, Utpalendu Chatterjee and assorted true-Marxist (as opposed to the bourgeoisie-loving Buddha-babu’s CPM), unwashed-since-Trotsky’s-purge film-makers and “theater-workers” find their subjects?
What will the art college drop-outs, Charminar-smoking modern poets and apprentice pickpockets argue about over tea? What will Aparna Sen and her other cohorts in “Citizen’s Initiatives” talk on their cell-phones about while clutching their vanity bags and their designer shawls? What will Kabir Suman or is it Babur Suman….I keep forgetting….sing and rant about? What will the glorious intellectuals from Jadavpur University and Presidency, with Che Guevara and Fidel “35,000″ women” Castro as their profile pictures, fight over on Orkut communities?
You see, taking away chronic poverty from us is like taking away our hilsa fish. Or taking away Rupa Ganguly. I mean this isn’t Gujarat or Maharashtra. There even when there is opposition to industry, there is room for negotiation. There is room for things like “better deals”. Realizable solutions.
But then again, this is not Gujarat or Maharashtra.
Which means no compromise.
Or as our intellectuals would say “No passaran”.
Not that we Bengalis are an unyielding people. We most certainly are not. On most matters, we roll over and clutch our Gitobitaans and start singing “Aaj kon aalo laaglo chokhe”.
But when it comes to industry and shorsher tel (mustard oil), paraphrasing William Wallace in “Braveheart” —they may take away our afternoon naps but they will never take our ……ability to drive away industries.
Of course now with Singur almost gone (even though the Tatas have started rolling out the machinery and the CPM government offering another Pujo package), Bengal will be facing a new challenge. No not unemployment, flight of jobs and economic stagnation. That we do face but it’s definitely not a challenge. After all there is always “jibonmukhi” gaan and Singi-maacher jhol to keep us company.
The challenge is different: “what shall we now struggle against?”
As Manomohan Dutta in Satyajit Ray’s “Agantuk” says:
Bangalir oti priyo sobdo. Struggle. [The favorite word of Bengalis is "struggle"]
There are of course some Bangalis who do struggle, in a different way, when industries leave the state. I once read about a town in West Bengal which used to have a number of engineering factories. All of which, in the height of CITU trade unionism, were shut down. The town became a ghost of itself with most people leaving it for other pastures. The story I read was about one man, who for decades would show up to work, on time, and stand in front of the closed factory gate waiting for it to open. Hoping every day that today would be the day when good sense dawns on all and he gets his job back. It never happened.
The problem with this guy was that for some bizarre reason, perhaps because he had nothing else, he had hope. Which in Mamata-devi’s Bangla is perhaps the most dangerous thing to have.
Did I just mention Mamata “Bandh”opadhyaya, the Trinamool supremo and the undisputed lioness of Bengal? The Singur Andolon has truly been her finest hour edging out that marvelous moment when she had sounded the death knell of CPM rule by ringing a gong in Central Kolkata. Verily, this is a knock-out victory for Didi—rarely has her 24 hour rail-rokos and her serial bandhs caused so much damage in one-go for the state than the 80,000 crore loss the closing down of the Nano project will lead to. [ Incidentally, for those who do not know, Trinamool Congress measures their success solely by the economic damage it can cause West Bengal.] If there is anything that shows that Mamata-di is now ready to lead, it has been her consistently demonstrated ability to totally paralyze the state.
Some accuse our peaceful agitators of physically attacking Tata workers at Singur and of blocking the Durgapur Highway and causing untold misery for people. Nothing could be further from the truth. As Becharam Manna of TMC explains:
Trinamool leader in Singur, Becharam Manna, denied intimidation saying “the workers have been urged to leave the factory on their own to express solidarity with us.”
Of course this “urging” may have been rather aggressive but then again as any Naxal-turned-cricket mom-dad intellectual who in the 70s tried to convert Bengal into Cambodia and now lead their lives as professors angling for World Bank funding would tell you—-what’s a revolution, even a Jaipan mixer grinder revolution (remember the ad: We want revolution, Jaipan revolution) without some chopped capitalist liver?
When Bengal started attracting foreign investment a few years ago, I was shocked. And positively uncomfortable. It just didn’t feel right—like when Sourav Ganguly swishes outside the off-stump or when Bappi Lahiri does not wear his jewelery .
But now it seems the order of things just might again been restored.
Caption: Take that Tata !
And for that let us all congratulate Mamata-di, the brave follower of the legendary Leoni Das of yore, who with a band of three hundred Bangalis, all wearing Gallop Hawai chappals , pushed back an entire army of capitalists while shouting to the skies.
This is Banglaaaaaaaaaa !!!